Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Is detente over between the two major parties?

[CNRP's activists being escorted to prison, Image credit the Cambodia Daily]
By Khmer Wathanakam

After a calm political atmosphere for awhile since the two major parties--CPP and CNRP-- signed an agreement to end political crisis on July 22, 2013 due to election fraud protests, political heat up seems return to post-election crisis again.  At this time not about election crisis but border demarcation issue, a controversial law to restrict NGO's, and CNRP's MP Um Sam An who plans to sue Heng Ramrin who refused to sign and send the CNRP's MPs' letter to the council of minister for postponement of border demarcation.  Meanwhile Hun Sen has threatened to end "culture of dialogue" with Sam Rainsy if Mr. Um Sam An dares to sue Heng Samrin in the constitutional court for failure to perform his constitutional duty as the president of the National Assembly. Thus, the border crisis, the controversial NGO law, and a question of Mr. Heng Samrin who failed to perform his constitutional duty have pushed the CPP against the wall again.  Nothing new if we have fallowed up political situation from the past when the opposition demands reform, accountability, and transparency from the government, it never gets a favorable response from the ruling party but threatening and jail term.  Now a swift response from the ruling party CPP is to order its controlled court to hand down jail term from 7 to 20 years for 11 CNRP's activists, accusing them of "insurrection," a violent act to overthrow the government, a ridiculous baseless charge.  In fact, those activists just defensed themselves from the brutal security forces who are famous in beating up protesters numerous times in the past.  The severe conviction on the 11 CNRP's activists is totally political motivate and a scapegoat in order to wedge the CNRP to back down from their campaign to bring transparency of border delineation and to retaliate the CNRP on its boycott the vote on NGO's law.

A detente created by culture of dialogue between the two major parties seems fade out gradually when the CPP has embraced its violent nature that it has been practiced successfully for over three decades.  Any strong opposition threatens its established based power would be met with violence means--threatening, intimidating, and imprisonment.  In the past few weeks there were many incidents that made the CPP furious: CNRP's MPs criticized the government of failure to protect border, allowing Vietnam quietly and systematically to encroach Cambodian land and accused the government of using a fake map to redraw border line with Vietnam.  When a group of CNRP's MP wrote a letter to the government demanding it to postpone border demarcation, the letter has never been signed and sent to the government by Heng Samrin though mandated by the constitution.  Then Mr. Um Sam An warned that he would bring this matter to the constitutional court because Heng Samrin failed to perform his constitutional duty as the president of the National Assembly. Such action has irked Hun Sen, and he threatened to cancel the culture of dialogue with Sam Rainsy if Mr. Um sam An is bold to bring Heng Samrin to the constitutional court. Along with this threat, the CPP's MPs headed by Cheang Vun would consider punishment for Mr. Um Sam An based on parliament internal rule, accusing him for defaming and offending the honor and authority of the president of the National Assembly. Consequently, Mr. Um Sam An may face a court summon as many CNRP's MPs used to face previously. Such a stand off between the CPP and CNRP's lawmakers has a political ramification on the court pending cases of the 11 activists.

Along with border delineation stand off with the CPP, the CNRP's MPs have boycotted the vote conspicuously controversial law that severely restricted freedom of forming and operating the NGOs which have helped to serve and protect the interest of people throughout the country for nearly three decades.  Despite the CPP doesn't  need the CNRP support, it reveals that the two parties' nature and political ideology are still far apart from each other.  The CPP's nature of using violence, intimidation, buying out, breaking up, and dominating over its opponents are naturally incompatible with CNRP's core value of peaceful co-existing, non-violence, democratic principle, national interest oriented, and social justice for all.  Although the CNRP has agreed to create a culture of dialogue with the CPP, it is a voluntarily gestures from both sides not a binding contract or law.  if both sides are not satisfied with it, they can walk away without consequence.  But Hun Sen has portrayed the culture of dialogue as political compromise which no one can accuse or criticize the other in any circumstance. Frequently, Hun Sen threatens to end the culture of dialogue whenever the opposition criticize the government actions.  Although the culture of dialogue has created detente, it doesn't mean the CNRP can't criticize the government and the ruling party.  The CNRP's MPs have to perform their jobs as the people representatives, thus they have to serve and protect the people and national interest.  The culture of dialogue must not interfere with the MPs ' duty to serve the people and the nation.  Hun Sen used to have Forcinpec appeasing all his wills, and now the CNRP is in no position to accommodate his unchecked power even if it has to be flexible in dealing with him in some special circumstance.  Nonetheless, the CNRP never renounces its principle as Sam Rainsy recently said, "change is irreversible." So the principle of the CNRP is to bring social, political, and economic changes to the nation through free and fair election contest.

Now a detente can last longer or is over depends on Hun Sen's political will, for he is still the one who can make rain or lightning on this land.  For instances, in Sok Bun's case, he fled the country after he savagely beat up a TV host, Miss Sasa, and the court and police seemed hesitate to seek and arrest Sok Bun, for he is a powerful tycoon in the country.  But after Hun Sen spoke up against him, the court issued an arrest warrant, and Sok Bun quickly return to show up in court prior to his schedule to return.  But for Chouke Bandidh's case though the victims begged for help to find justice for them, Hun Sen has never mentioned a single word on that case.  Now the 11 CNRP's activists' case is totally the political case, and it can only be solved on the basic of political compromise with Hun Sen.  We expect that those 11 activists won't serve to the end of their jail term, but they have to endure for sometimes until a time is suitable, or when Hun Sen is willing to stop making rain and lightning.  Look at Sourn Serey Ratha's case, though he is a fierce opponent to Hun Sen, and was branded as a terrorist, he never served a minute of his seven-year jail term, and now he can return to form a political party to contest in the next election.  This is how a magic power of Hun Sen works. The 11 activists' case is not as serious as Mr. Serey Ratha's case, but they are being used as a scapegoat to silence the opposition from mounting political attack on the ruling party recently.  Definitely, when political environment returns to normal, they will be free as those political cases in the past. 

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